Jen: Today we welceom Sabrina York as our first feature for HRR. Sabrina will you share a short bio with us?
Sabrina: Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching contemporary/historical/fantasy romance. Get updates, alerts and giveaway announcements from Sabrina here: http://eepurl.com/bj8tKb.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Sabrina: Hannah and the Highlander is the first in a series of Untamed Highlanders! It has just released and will be followed by Susana and the Scot and Lana and the Laird. The stories follow three sisters on their quest for love. The idea of following the sisters came from St. Martin’s Press editor, Monique Patterson, but she let me riffle through history and choose the era.
Scottish history is so rich and fraught with tension, it was hard to choose, but I opted to go with the Regency time period and deal with the Clearances that nearly devastated Scotland.
Beyond that, Hannah and the Highlander speaks to some of my favorite tropes. Hannah has to get married to save her people and Alexander has survived a dark past that would have broken a lesser man. I love the way Hannah discovers the truth about the man she married…and it makes her love him even more.
It was a delight to write, and I hope readers enjoy it as well.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Egads. She wants to speak with him before the wedding…
The door opened immediately, as though she’d been standing there waiting. At the sight of her, his heart stalled and his throat tightened. She had this effect on him each and every time he saw her. God, she was so beautiful.
Her eyes widened, as though she was surprised to see him, which befuddled him, because she’d asked him to come. Then her gaze raked him. He liked to think that look in her eye was a glimmer of appreciation. “Dunnet,” she said. “You’re . . . dressed.”
Aye. Dressed for a wedding. He couldn’t help but notice she was not.
“Lady . . . Hannah.” He bowed. “You wanted to . . . talk?”
She nodded briskly and opened the door wider, stepping back to allow him to enter. He did so and closed the door behind him. The click was deafening. It was not lost on him that he was in her bedchambers. His gaze flicked to the bed. It was slightly rumpled. That made him feel slightly rumpled as well.
This was not the time for his passion to rise.
“Thank you for coming,” she said, turning away to pace. “I know you are prepared to marry . . . forthwith.” He had no idea why she emphasized the word as she did. “But before we exchange our vows, I have some things that I need to say.”
He nodded, even as relief gushed through him.
She hadn’t changed her mind.
And if she had things to say, he should probably stay silent. And listen.
“You and I need to have an understanding.”
“An . . . understanding?”
“Aye.” His hope was supplanted by a hint of disappointment when she said in a very businesslike tone, “We both know this is a marriage of convenience.”
His gaze snapped to her face. Ernest though her expression was, it lacked the dreamy, romantic tinge a groom might hope for. In fact, she set her chin and shot him a very unromantic glance.
A marriage of convenience? A cold, heartless, distant union? Denial howled. Suddenly, to his surprise, he found he wanted something very different. He longed to respond, to cry out his dissent, but his throat locked.
“There is no reason to pretend this is something other than it is. I agreed to marry you because Dounreay needs your protection and you agreed to marry me for my lands. We are marrying for no other reason. Aye. I understand that. We understand that.”
Nae. We understood nothing of the sort. There was another reason he was determined to marry her, did she but realize.
He wanted her.
“Regardless, Dunnet, my wish is for a peaceful union.”
Peaceful. Aye. Peaceful was good.
“I should like for us to work together as a team. In partnership.”
Aye. He had a partnership in mind. . . .
“If I’m going to pledge myself to a man forever, I need to know that he will respect me. That he will honor my wishes. I need to know he will take my counsel into account.” She fixed Alexander with a steady gaze, as though she expected a response. So he nodded.
She was so beautiful, so earnest. So tantalizing.
He stepped closer, intent on his target.
Her eyes widened as he neared. Her hand on his chest stalled his approach and her brow wrinkled. Her gaze flicked to his mouth and her tongue peeped out, wetting her lips, igniting a flame in his belly. With great effort, she ripped her gaze away and frowned. “Do you agree to my terms?” she asked.
He cupped her cheek and angled her head up. Her breath caught. Her features froze as she realized his intent. “Aye,” he said. “Aye.” And then he did what he’d been thinking about for weeks. What he’d been obsessing over all day. He kissed her.
And it was glorious.
A shiver rippled over Hannah’s skin as Dunnet took her mouth. His taste, his scent, infused her. It was a light kiss, a testing foray, but it sent an unholy thrill through her and left her wanting one thing. More.
She had wanted this chance to speak with him privately, to receive his assurances that their marriage would be a partnership, to set her mind at rest, and he’d done that. But if she was being truthful . . . something like this had been on her mind as well, skulking there behind her noble intentions, a roiling hunger. A curiosity. A need.
She’d kissed him before and he had turned away. She desperately needed to know if, in his heart, he had any passion for her whatsoever.
He lifted his head—way too soon—and stared down at her. “Hannah . . . ” he murmured.
Even as she attempted to rein in her disappointment at his withdrawal, his hold on her cheek tightened, his eyes narrowed, and he issued a noise, something gruff and deep, something that sent a lick of exhilaration through her.
He yanked her closer. The feel of his body against hers, rigid and unyielding, made her head spin. His fingers threaded through her hair and he held her steady as his head descended again. She sucked in a breath, quivering with anticipation.
And ah. Ah.
This kiss was different.
This wasn’t tentative in the slightest. It was a taking. A mad, starved consummation of her mouth with his, a melding of lips and tongue and need.
This was as wild as the windy squalls off the coast. As tantalizing as the fairy wisps at dusk. As scorching as the forge where razor-sharp steel was tempered and formed.
And it cut through her like a screaming wind, an enticing magic, a warm blade.
Scuttles of heat rose in her womb. Rivulets of excitement danced in her veins. His taste filled her senses, her mouth, her soul.
When he lifted his head, a glimmer danced in his eye. It was the look of a conquering hero, a savage Scotsman, a man whose hunger had been sated but ignited at the same time.
Exultation whipped through her. Her knees were weak and her body melted.
Damn her reservations.
Damn her fears.
Damn her doubts about whether or not he really wanted her.
She wanted him. And she would have him.
It was gratifying to see that he was not unaffected. His breath came heavy and hard and there was a slight tremble in his voice when he spoke. It was one word and one word only, forced out and wreathed in a growl, but it was enough.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Sabrina: When I was little, my kindergarten teacher pulled my mom aside and told her it was unlikely I would ever learn to read, much less write, because I couldn’t even master my letters. My mom—who was studying child development at the time—took me in for testing and they discovered I had dyslexia. She became determined to ignite a love of books in me. And she did. She read to me every night. One chapter only. Until I got so frustrated, I figured out how to read myself.
And once I did, it was on! I can’t tell you how many times she found me beneath the covers with a flashlight! I read CONSTANTLY.
When I got older, we moved overseas and the base had a limited library. I got annoyed that I’d read all the books, and decided to start writing my very own. This was much more satisfying, because I could make them end the way I wanted! And I could flip all those annoying clichés on their ear.
Though it would be decades before I published, I was hooked.
My “call” was an email. I’d won a contest and the final judge was an editor. She loved my entries (there were three) and bought them all.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Sabrina: I am extraordinarily anal. I love to plot and I typically sketch out the turning points and other elements before I begin to write. Sometimes, however, the characters take over and boss me around. Sometimes, we go off road. But I love having some kind of map.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Sabrina: Sexy, snarky, satisfying
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Sabrina: Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. I write in ALL KINDS OF GENRES! Romance is my first love (and in romance I’ve written everything from contemporary SEALs and cowboys to naughty dukes) But I also write women’s fiction, sci fi, fantasy and more.
I will probably stay away from poetry (though I’ve written it) because I don’t think the world has done anything to deserve something as heinous as my poetry. (You’re welcome)
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Sabrina: First of all, I LOVE research. This is probably why historical romances are some of my faves. I love digging into the tales of the time and folding real events and people into my stories. There is a scene in Hannah and the Highlander that was lifted from my research. It horrified me that a thug set a woman’s house on fire…with her inside. And then the bastard grabbed her cat and tossed it into the blaze. In the true form of an author who secretly wants to re-write all wrongs, my heroine saved the woman and the cat in my story.
Real life was not so kind.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Sabrina: Because I am dyslexic, it is difficult making the words come out right. I have to work very hard to get it the way I envision it. Imagine having the perfect story locked inside your head—like a movie—and struggling to get it on paper. The words come out wrong. The letters are transposed. Sometimes I even grab the wrong word out of the ether. The secret to success is to keep barreling on.
THANK GOD for good editors.
The easiest thing is coming up with story ideas because they pepper me all the time. I keep a notebook by my side for when that happens. It can be frustrating, because I don’t have time to write ALL those stories and some of them are amazing!
The most rewarding thing in the entire world is hearing from a reader who GOT the joke, or felt the pain of my characters or simply loved the book. That is, beyond all things, the most magnificent feeling. It makes all the suffering worth it. Absolutely worth it.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Sabrina: In the Untamed Highlander series there is a character I adore. She is me, was me. Her name is Isobel and she is the daughter of one of the sisters. I don’t know why, but she delights me to the depth of my being. She is fearless and plucky and always says what everyone else is thinking. She’s five, so she has no filters.
In one scene, Susana and Isobel are fighting the bad guys, and Isobel—who has a bloodthirsty fascination for weapons—lets an arrow fly into the villain’s arse. “You weren’t supposed to shoot him,” her mother says. Isobel’s response? “I know. But I wanted to.”
I hope you will love her as much as I do!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Sabrina: I am not sure what this mythical “free time” is. I work all day, every day. Reading, writing, connecting with readers, setting up promo (writing blog posts) and managing my business. 12-14 hour days. And I love it.
If you love what you do, it’s not work.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Sabrina: The next big thrill for me is the release of Susana and the Scot! It comes out in December (followed by Lana and the Laird in the Spring). In the meantime, I will be writing new stories (I am averaging a release a month), conferencing and enjoying meeting readers!
I love meeting readers and encourage everyone to connect with me! I even have a private chat room with members only giveaways and first looks! Join the conversation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SabrinaYorkChatAndContests/